A few days ago, I had to call a bill collector to discuss a debt I owe, which led to him wanting me to make a payment over the phone, which led to a discussion that didn’t make him happy: Where did he sit? Was he in a private office away from others’ ears? Or did he work in a cubicle, near others, including vendors, contractors, customers and other visitors? He said he worked in a cube, and other people were near – walk-ins (customers coming in to do business), and a “kid sweeping the floor.”
“Think,” I said. “I already gave you my name, address and phone number, which you repeated to me to verify they were correct. To pay you, I must give you my credit card number, then the super-secret three-digit security code, and you will repeat the numbers to verify they are correct.”
“Yes,” he said, “But I only enter it in our payment screen – I don’t keep the information.”
“No, you don’t – but others may,” I said. “What if they, or the “kid sweeping the floor,” have smartphones with voice recording applications running, recording all being said in the office? Imagine the treasure they’d reap later as they replay the recordings and hear my name, address and phone number, credit card number and security code.”
I work in the information technologies field (I.T.) as a field service technician (F.S.T), which means I go into the field to fix computers and things. That “field” is several stores of a national home improvement chain.
I thought of the above one day while working on a register in Customer Service, where an associate was handling a payment over the phone, repeating the credit information within the hearing of other customers and me.
Mind you, I’m not singling out the chain I care for, or the associates. They need to verify the information so you are charged fairly, and the store receives payment. Also, this happens at numerous businesses – if not all – whether a national chain, or your local convenience store. I am writing about it, not because I feel a need to throw blame or shame, but because I feel a need to address it and fix it.
Until then, use websites to order and pay, or go to the store and do it personally – and don’t forget to be pleasant and smile.